Review: The Ground Rules, The Ground Rules: Rewritten, and The Ground Rules: Undone by Roya Carmen (The Ground Rules #1-#3)
Note: The Ground Rules: Undone was provided by Ardent PRose in exchange for an honest review.
I was contemplating whether I would go with separate reviews for the three books in The Ground Rules series by author Roya Carmen, which, based on Goodreads, was originally called The Rule Breakers series, and decided to go with a joint review instead. My main reason for doing this is because the trilogy has one main story arc involving two couples: Gabe and Mirella Keates and Weston and Bridget Hanson. The first two books end in cliffhangers and because I read the three books back to back to back, going with one review discussing the story arc that runs through the trilogy as well as the attributes of each book made more sense to me than doing separate reviews. But even with the joint review, I'll still be giving separate ratings for each of the three books and then give an average rating for the trilogy in its entirety.
The Ground Rules introduces both couples to readers and both have been married for quite some time, with two children each. Their meeting is purely coincidental, but the pursuit of the Hansons purposeful, proposing a swingers-style arrangement with the Keateses. From the moment they first meet, it's clear that the connection between Mirella Keates and Weston Hanson is more than fanciful, while that of Gabe Keates and Bridget Hanson is more physical than anything else. They set rules for their arrangement but once emotions get involved, everything becomes complicated and even when an end is put to the arrangement, it isn't easy to simply forget about said connection. But when what's happening between Mirella and Weston threatens two supposedly happily married couples, will two families end up undone?
From the get-go, I wasn't a fan of Mirella's. I saw her as a bored mother of two who wanted something to distract her from the life she'd been leading with Gabe and Weston is more than capable in providing that distraction. The trilogy was essentially Mirella's story, all three books told from her perspective, and there were times that I so wished we had gotten some sense as to how Weston, Gabe, and Bridget were feeling and how they were dealing with the seriously effed up state of their affairs. She waffled one time too many and I think it had a lot to do with her wanting her cake and eating it too. How much did she really Gabe and was she ever really in love with Weston? If she truly loved one, she wouldn't have needed the other. Sorry but I don't believe you can be in love with two people at once. That's merely a selfish excuse for cheating.
I honestly felt terrible for both Gabe and Weston. These two were so in love with the same woman and were clearly overly patient and tried to be understanding. Mirella had a choice to make and I really, really, REALLY wanted her to be woman enough to make one without having all those damned second thoughts and that inner whining. Maybe she got a kick out of two men lusting after and loving her, but she was playing with the lives of not just individuals but the future of families as well. Can you tell how much I did NOT like this woman? I got the end of the third book and was so torn because I felt as if it become more of a case of living with the outcome rather than actively making a decision for yourself. Everyone's lives were irrevocably changed forever, and then it was as if, okay, let's pretend as if nothing happened...like, at all.
Now, as much as I gripe about Mirella Keates and would have wanted the ending to have been more proactive and decisive, I quite admired Roya Carmen's gift for coming up with an intense story of love and lust. Her writing was spot on, weaving a twisted tale but giving most of her characters a sensitivity and humanity to them that made me empathize with their situation. I was fortunate to have the three books available to be read sequentially rather than having to wait for a future release because those two cliffhangers would have frustrated me to bits. Yes, I admit it--patience is a virtue that I do not have, and with a story like the one shared by Gabe and Mirella Keates and Weston and Bridget Hanson, I needed to know what was going to happen next. Overall, The Ground Rules trilogy was an overall 4.5-starred read. ♥
The Ground Rules - 4.5 stars
The Ground Rules: Rewritten - five stars
The Ground Rules: Undone - four stars
Date Read: 26 February 2016
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